U.S. Olympic Champion Tanith Belbin’s Advice for Moms
Tanith Belbin is a champion ice dancer having earned the silver medal during the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, a silver medal during the 2009 World Championships and she and partner Ben Agosto placed fourth during the Vancouver 2010 games. I was able to see them skate and in all their glory and it was fantastic!
I was very excited to speak to Tanith when she visited the P&G Family Home*. Tanith has been very vocal about her weight and body image issues. With the help of her new coaches, during the summer of 2008, Tanith realized that the poor eating habits she kept in order to maintain her lithe physique was costing her in strength and agility. Since then she has taken better care of her body with proper nutrition and strength training which has led her to gain ten pounds in weight but add noticeable power and confidence to her skating.
I asked Tanith what advice would she share with moms of children athletes who might be concerned about their child’s current or future focus on body image.
Tanith’s first piece of advice to moms is to start sending positive messages about healthy eating at ages eight or nine when moms are more of an influence on their daughters than peers. By age eleven when these body image issues usually rear their heads, girls are listening more to their friends and mom’s influence may be more muted by then.
Tanith’s second message to moms is to impart that athletes’ needs are different. Moms should tell their daughters “you are exceptional and super human. You need more food, more fuel, to give you more energy.” True, your child athlete may need a more efficient diet than her brothers or sisters but it’s “never a matter of limitations.”
Tanith is unbelievably thoughtful and well-spoken on this issue, so much so that I encouraged her to speak publicly about it . I really hope she visits schools and writes articles for magazines. We can all learn from her about her success.
For more on Tanith and her triumph, read the fabulous article written by the NY Times.
Disclosure: P&G flew me to Vancouver and paid for my stay while there and that included having attended the ice dancing competition. My opinions are my own and have not been paid for whatsoever.